What brought me to this career path of starting up a tea business? First, I love everything about tea, and second I love spending time with people from all walks of life and around the world. I wanted to share the passion and love I have for teas with everyone. I started my career as a person who loves helping people from the intellectually disabled to the homeless veterans. But I always knew I in my heart that I wanted to start my own business. I wanted a business that would allow me to produce and sell what I love, but also continue to have the ability to help and bring knowledge to others. In 2015, I started a spa subscription box business that allow me to make handmade spa items, share my favorite loose leaf teas, and a gourmet snack shipped to the doors around the country. I wanted people to enjoy the luxury of a home base spa but most of all find time to enjoy themselves. They would receive a surprise box every month which contains a different theme.
This business took off successfully and received great reviews, but many of my subscribers continually asked about the loose leaf teas that came in the box and the benefits of drinking teas. In 2017, I decided to end the spa box and started True Serenity Tea. An award winning tea subscription box business that delivers gourmet and exotic loose leaf teas from around the world to your doorsteps every month, but also bring you the knowledge of drinking teas and its benefits.
We started TST to start a journey of drinking healthy and beneficial beverages. And to share with the world that drinking tea is not just for the elite but for everyone. Experiencing tea should be fun, serene and rewarding at the same time. Serenity is the tranquil balance of heart and mind.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
First running a subscription box business is one of the most complex business model you can follow. Many think that’s it easy to run a subscription box company. The truth is that it’s hard, probably harder than normal ecommerce business.
When I first started True Serenity Tea it was hard crossing over from the spa world to the tea world. Getting subscribers to commit to a tea sample box every month was challenging. How to market and execute it. Since this was a rebranding of an existing start up it was hard trying to find capital and the time to regrow the business. There was multiple challenges we faced such as fading out the existing box company, shipping existing versus new boxes, convincing my existing subscribers to try our new tea box, and gaining new subscribers. We lost subscribers and of course revenue along the transitioning of the company. It was the most trying time of the business.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I had to believe in our mission. The mission of True Serenity Tea is to provide high quality, innovative and delicious loose leaf teas and tisanes so one may enjoy a serene tea-moment anytime of the day. Happy, serene, satisfied customers are a top priority. We take delight in assisting each person every month in finding that state or quality of serenity in their own life.
We had to believe that we can bring our passion of teas to others. Drinking Teas is not for the Elite but for ALL!
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success?
What lead to True Serenity Tea success is the continuing in believing in the business. Increase our customers service motto as “being part of the family “. Believing that there are tea drinkers out there that need to experience the wonders of loose leaf teas from around the world. Seeing happy customers share our service online, valuing their feedback.
We started posting more on Social Media, posting articles about the benefits of drinking loose leaf teas and the difference between process teas to loose leaf teas. We started participating in free promotions and doing podcasts. We rebuild the brand and the team.
So, how are things going today? :-)
Things are going great. We have grown to over 300 subscribers as reoccurring subscribers and gift buyers. We are still learning, growing,and expanding. We have participated in many events such as post Oscars Galas, and Celebrity weddings. We have been featured at Black Enterprise FWD conference and Essence Festival. We have been named one of the 5 best subscription boxes for tea addicts in 2017 and the top 10 best tea subscription box review since 2017. Soon we will be launching at The Market Place at Macy’s.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
To tell you the truth there were so many funny mistakes we made when we started the business. The funniest mistake we made in the beginning was thinking that all teas come from China. Since then we learned that all teas don’t come China and we started to sample more teas from different countries.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
First of all, the tea industry is difficult and costly to navigate let alone running a subscription box company. I would tell anyone in the tea business and subscription box business to keep learning and researching. Hold on to your passion, empathize with your subscribers, give the best customer service you can give. Share with your subscribers your journey of drinking tea and the wins of your business. Expand beyond the subscription box model. Most of all never compare yourself with other tea companies, be yourself.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have lots of people who I can grateful to and have support me. I am grateful to my husband, my daughter and my team. But most of all I am grateful to my customers and their stories on how our teas have brought them joy.
There was a email we received from a subscriber who wanted to thank us for bringing joy to her mother before she passed away. Her mother enjoyed receiving her tea box every month and looked forward to it every month even throughout the last days of her life. It brought her joy.
This email and story brought me to tears and keeps me and my team going. Always.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I love giving back as I started my career in helping others. Not only have we helped many start their tea journey but many of our sales proceedings went to Hurricane Harvey, supporting the Veterans, World Aide and many more.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why.
1. Get your financial house in order. Have a separate account from your business and your personal life.
In the beginning I didn’t know my numbers. Having separate accounts will help you to know your numbers. Also have a good CPA to assist you in knowing your numbers and the tax law.
2. How hard it was going to be to run a subscription box business.
Having a subscription box business is not a quick rich business. It’s takes a lot of work and dedication to the business. It took me 3 years to get True Serenity Tea to were it is today and we are still growing
3. Don’t be afraid to Collaborate.
In the beginning I kept my business to myself and not share it. Once I started to share the business and collaborate with other businesses the business started to grow.
4. Don’t be afraid to take risk! Believe in your business. If you don’t believe who will.
5. Research and always be open to new ideas.
I love learning and researching new ideas for the business. Love getting feedback from my customers. I always asked my longtime subscribers and even those who cancelled what can we do better to serve them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Give tea to all that may not have the resources to obtain it. Such as offering tea as a main beverage to many urban communities. Introduce to them the benefits of drinking gourmet teas.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow Us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. You can even go to www.trueserenitytea.com and sign up for our newsletter.